Leviticus 21:10
And he that is the high priest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;
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(10) And he that is the high priest among his brethren.—That is, among his priestly brethren, the one who is distinguished among them by this office.

Upon whose head the anointing oil was poured.—This profuse pouring of oil was the distinctive feature in the consecration of the high priest. (See Leviticus 8:12.)

Consecrated to put on the garments.—Better, consecrated by putting on the garments. The robing of the high priest by Moses, as well as the anointing him, constituted part of the consecration ceremony. (See Leviticus 8:7-11.)

Shall not uncover his head.—Better, shall not let his head be dishevelled, which was a sign of mourning. (See Leviticus 10:6.)

Nor rend his clothes.—That is, “in the time of distress,” as the ancient Chaldee version of Jonathan rightly adds after it. Sustaining this high position, and being the intercessor between God and man, such outward expressions of sorrow might lead those in whose behalf he ministers in the sanctuary to believe that he thereby impugns the justice of the Divine judgment.

Leviticus 21:10. The garments — Those holy garments which were peculiar to him. Shall not uncover his head — This being then the posture of mourners, (Leviticus 10:6,) though afterward the custom was changed, and mourners covered their heads, 2 Samuel 15:30; Esther 6:12. Nor rend his clothes — Another expression of mourning.21:1-24 Laws concerning the priests. - As these priests were types of Christ, so all ministers must be followers of him, that their example may teach others to imitate the Saviour. Without blemish, and separate from sinners, He executed his priestly office on earth. What manner of persons then should his ministers be! But all are, if Christians, spiritual priests; the minister especially is called to set a good example, that the people may follow it. Our bodily infirmities, blessed be God, cannot now shut us out from his service, from these privileges, or from his heavenly glory. Many a healthful, beautiful soul is lodged in a feeble, deformed body. And those who may not be suited for the work of the ministry, may serve God with comfort in other duties in his church.It was the distinguishing mark of the anointing of the high priest, that the holy oil was poured upon his head like a crown (compare Leviticus 8:12).

Uncover his head - Rather, let his hair be disheveled. See the note at Leviticus 10:6.

10-15. he that is the high priest among his brethren … shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes—The indulgence in the excepted cases of family bereavement, mentioned above [Le 21:2, 3], which was granted to the common priests, was denied to him; for his absence from the sanctuary for the removal of any contracted defilement could not have been dispensed with, neither could he have acted as intercessor for the people, unless ceremonially clean. Moreover, the high dignity of his office demanded a corresponding superiority in personal holiness, and stringent rules were prescribed for the purpose of upholding the suitable dignity of his station and family. The same rules are extended to the families of Christian ministers (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). Upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, Leviticus 8:12; which was only sprinkled upon inferior priests, blood also being mixed with it, Leviticus 8:30.

The garments, to wit, those holy garments which were peculiar to him, as well as those common to others.

Shall not uncover his head; this being then the posture of mourners, Leviticus 10:6, though afterwards the custom was changed, and mourners covered their heads, 2 Samuel 15:30 Esther 6:12. Or if this custom was now in use, the meaning may be, he shall not put off the priestly covering or mitre, which was necessary for him to do, if he had put on the mourner’s covering upon his head, otherwise the holy covering had been defiled, but he shall continue in the exercise of his office, which is signified by keeping on his priestly garments. And he that is the high priest among his brethren,.... Either among his brethren, the priests, being in office above them; or among his brethren the Israelites, among and over whom he is high priest; or, as others render it, "the priest who is greater than his brethren" (d), in an higher office; the Jews say (e) the high priest was to be greater than his brethren, in beauty, in strength, in wisdom, and in riches; and if he had not money enough, all the priests were to give him of theirs, everyone according to his riches, until he became the richest among them all:

upon whose head the anointing oil was poured; as it was poured upon Aaron at his consecration, and those that succeeded him, Exodus 29:7 Leviticus 8:12,

and that is consecrated to put on the garments; the eight garments with which the high priest was clothed at the time of his consecration, Leviticus 8:7; and in which he and his sons are said to be consecrated, Exodus 29:29; in order to which he was "to fill his hand"; as the phrase here is, that is, with the fat and right shoulder of the ram of consecration, and with the loaf of bread, and cake of oiled bread, and wafer, Exodus 29:23; in all which he was a type of Christ, the great High Priest, as he is often called, who is greater than his brethren in all the above things, the high priest exceeded his brethren, except in worldly riches; and yet the earth also is his, and the fulness thereof, well as he is fairer than the children of men, stronger than the strong man armed, and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in him; he is anointed also with the oil of gladness above his fellows; and all his garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and is consecrated an high priest for evermore: of the high priest it is said, he

shall not uncover his head: that is, on account of the dead; not take off his mitre, or in any such way express mourning for the dead; or shall not nourish his hair or let it grow, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; and so Jarchi interprets it, he shall not let the hair grow for mourning; and what is nourishing of the hair? when it is let grow more than thirty days:

nor rend his clothes; that is, on the same account, and therefore Jonathan adds, in the hour of distress, or mourning for the dead; otherwise, in case of blasphemy, he might rend his clothes, see Matthew 26:65; and indeed, according to the Jewish canons, he might rend his clothes in mourning, only in a different manner from common priests; for so they say (f),"he may not rend for the dead, as other priests,''as it is said: "nor rend his clothes"; and if he rends he is to be beaten, but he may rend below over against (or near) his feet; and so in the Misnah (g), an high priest rends below, and a common priest above; See Gill on Leviticus 10:6.

(d) So Pagninus, Ainsworth, and others. (e) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 18. 1. Horayot, fol. 9. 1. Cholin, fol. 134. 2. Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 1. & in Misn. Yoma, c. 1. sect. 3. & Bartenora in ib. (f) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 6. (g) Horayot, c. 3. sect. 5.

And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not {g} uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;

(g) He shall use no such ceremonies as the mourners observed.

10. The reference to the anointing and vesting may be taken from Pin which source it now appears in Exodus 29:5 ff.

that is consecrated] See R.V. mg. and note on Leviticus 8:33.

shall not let the hair of his head go loose] so as to preserve a seemly appearance in contrast to that of the leper. See on Leviticus 10:6. A.V. wrongly, ‘shall not uncover his head.’

nor rend his clothes] as was the custom in sign of mourning (2 Samuel 1:11; 2 Samuel 3:31, etc.).

10–15. Corresponding regulations, but of a somewhat stricter character, for the high priest

Verses 10-15. - The high priest, upon whose head the anointing off was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, symbolizing in his person the Holy One in a more special manner than the other priests, has to aim so much the more at symbolical holiness. He may not, therefore. incur legal uncleanness by taking part in the funeral rites, even of his father or mother, not being permitted to absent himself from the sanctuary, which he would have to do if he had thus ceremonially defiled himself. Nor is it enough that he should abstain from taking an immoral or a divorced wife; he may only wed a virgin and of his own people, whereas the other priests might marry widows and the daughters of strangers dwelling among the Israelites. In the ordinances for priests given in Ezekiel 44, the ordinary priests, as well as the high priest, are forbidden to marry widows, unless they be the widows of priests (Ezekiel 44:22). The priest was not to defile himself on account of a soul, i.e., a dead person (nephesh, as in Leviticus 19:28), among his countrymen, unless it were of his kindred, who stood near to him (i.e., in the closest relation to him), formed part of the same family with him (cf. Leviticus 21:3), such as his mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or a sister who was still living with him as a virgin and was not betrothed to a husband (cf. Ezekiel 44:25). As every corpse not only defiled the persons who touched it, but also the tent or dwelling in which the person had died (Numbers 19:11, Numbers 19:14); in the case of death among members of the family or household, defilement was not to be avoided on the part of the priest as the head of the family. It was therefore allowable for him to defile himself on account of such persons as these, and even to take part in their burial. The words of Leviticus 21:4 are obscure: "He shall not defile himself בּעמּיו בּעל, i.e., as lord (pater-familias) among his countrymen, to desecrate himself;" and the early translators have wandered in uncertainty among different renderings. In all probability בּעל denotes the master of the house or husband. But, for all that, the explanation given by Knobel and others, "as a husband he shall not defile himself on the death of his wife, his mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, by taking part in their burial," is decidedly to be rejected. For, apart from the unwarrantable introduction of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, there is sufficient to prevent our thinking of defilement on the death of a wife, in the fact that the wife is included in the "kin that is near unto him" in Leviticus 21:2, though not in the way that many Rabbins suppose, who maintain that שׁאר signifies wife, but implicite, the wife not being expressly mentioned, because man and wife form one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and the wife stands nearer to the husband than father and mother, son and daughter, or brother and sister. Nothing is proved by appealing to the statement made by Plutarch, that the priests of the Romans were not allowed to defile themselves by touching the corpses of their wives; inasmuch as there is no trace of this custom to be found among the Israelites, and the Rabbins, for this very reason, suppose the death of an illegitimate wife to be intended. The correct interpretation of the words can only be arrived at by considering the relation of the fourth verse to what precedes and follows. As Leviticus 21:1-3 stand in a very close relation to Leviticus 21:5 and Leviticus 21:6, - the defilement on account of a dead person being more particularly explained in the latter, or rather, strictly speaking, greater force being given to the prohibition, - it is natural to regard Leviticus 21:4 as standing in a similar relation to Leviticus 21:7, and to understand it as a general prohibition, which is still more clearly expounded in Leviticus 21:7 and Leviticus 21:9. The priest was not to defile himself as a husband and the head of a household, either by marrying a wife of immoral or ambiguous reputation, or by training his children carelessly, so as to desecrate himself, i.e., profane the holiness of his rank and office by either one or the other (cf. Leviticus 21:9 and Leviticus 21:15). - In Leviticus 21:5 desecration is forbidden in the event of a death occurring. He was not to shave a bald place upon his head. According to the Chethib יקרחה is to be pointed with ה- attached, and the Keri יקרחוּ is a grammatical alteration to suit the plural suffix in בּראשׁם, which is obviously to be rejected on account of the parallel יגלּחוּ לא זקנם וּפאת. In both of the clauses there is a constructio ad sensum, the prohibition which is addressed to individuals being applicable to the whole: upon their head shall no one shave a bald place, namely, in front above the forehead, "between the eyes" (Deuteronomy 14:1). We may infer from the context that reference is made to a customary mode of mourning for the dead; and this is placed beyond all doubt by Deuteronomy 14:1, where it is forbidden to all the Israelites "for the dead." According to Herodotus, 2, 36, the priests in Egypt were shaven, whereas in other places they wore their hair long. In other nations it was customary for those who were more immediately concerned to shave their heads as a sign of mourning; but the Egyptians let their hair grow both upon their head and chin when any of their relations were dead, whereas they shaved at other times. The two other outward signs of mourning mentioned, namely, cutting off the edge of the beard and making incisions in the body, have already been forbidden in Leviticus 19:27-28, and the latter is repeated in Deuteronomy 14:1. The reason for the prohibition is given in Leviticus 21:6 - "they shall be holy unto their God," and therefore not disfigure their head and body by signs of passionate grief, and so profane the name of their God when they offer the firings of Jehovah; that is to say, when they serve and approach the God who has manifested Himself to His people as the Holy One. On the epithet applied to the sacrifices, "the food of God," see at Leviticus 3:11 and Leviticus 3:16.
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